The Challenge is an unpredictable game, even with that in mind fans normally expect the best players to go far. However sometimes in seasons competitors come in looking strong but get knocked out far earlier than fans expected. Some of these front runners were like Kelz this past episode and viewed as the highly touted rookie or looked unbeatable after starting the season off with a couple wins. Others were coming off winning their previous season or were a returning challenge legend. Everyone on this list has one thing in common, they were all sent home way earlier than audiences at the time were expecting.
Joss came in to his first season, Vendettas, with an absolute bang and not only did he look like a Greek god, he also backed it up by winning the very first daily challenge, a brutal overnight run up the Rock of Gibraltar. He was a huge threat and became the target for the veterans lead by Johnny Bananas. He was subsequently voted in to the elimination against a much smaller Shane and looked to be the favorite. That was when disaster struck, the Mercenaries twist instead had him go against Derrick, in probably the greatest elimination ever. After nearly 90 minutes, Derrick beat Joss sending him home in only the eighth episode of the season.
Ashley(War of the Worlds)
Ashley came into War of them with an enormous target on her back having won 2 out of 3 seasons she actually competed on(counting Dirty Thirty is a bit absurd considering she quit before a daily challenge was played). This was before a lot of fans started saying she was overrated Ashley had just won Final Reckoning and kept the whole million dollars instead of splitting with Hunter. On War of the Worlds, Ashley was made out to be a villain to the new cast by Hunter and he wanted to exact his revenge when he was thrown in the first elimination calling her out and sending her (and her partner Chase) home first.
Zach & Trey (Rivals 2)
Zach & Trey were absolutely true to the theme of Rivals hating each other from the previous season Battle of the Seasons which Zach came won as part of Team San Diego. They came out the gate hot, starting Rivals II by winning the first two daily challenges and looked to be one of the strongest pairs in the season. Unfortunately they stumbled finishing last in the fifth daily challenge and ending up in the elimination against Leroy & Ty. They competed in the elimination and won… or so they thought, because TJ dropped the news that Zach & Trey were actually DQed for breaking the rules giving Leroy & Ty the victory and sending them home in the third men’s elimination.
Jordan (Total Madness)
Jordan came into Total Madness on a historic run winning three seasons in a row (Battle of the Exes 2, Dirty Thirty XXX & War of the Worlds II) a feat only rivaled by Darrell’s four in a row and Jamie Murray’s 3 straight wins both of which were way earlier in Challenge history. Jordan was his normal self on Total Madness (apart from his odd haircut/ mustache combination) but he ended up getting thrown into an elimination against a much larger and two-handed Fessy in a pole wrestle giving him a huge disadvantage. Jordan was not able to overcome the disadvantages like he had in the past resulting in his second ever elimination loss and early exit as one of the fourth men out.
Tori (Total Madness)
Tori came in to Total Madness similar to her then fiancé Jordan really high on herself and pretty deservedly so. She had made it to the final in both Dirty Thirty and War of the Worlds II with strong elimination wins over Georgia & Jenny. There was the outlier of Final Reckoning but many fans wrote that off as Derrick Henry’s fault. Tori started off doing pretty well on Total Madness and chose to throw herself in against a seemingly checked out Jenna. Tori expected to easily be able to send Jenna home to resolve the issues with Zach and be able to coast to the end with a red skull. Tori was wrong, as Jenna was not so checked out sending her home third for the women.
Laurel Stuckey (War of the Worlds 2)
Laurel is one of the best competitors in Challenge history and she has the ego to match it.Coming into War of the Worlds 2 Laurel was a challenge champion who had made it to 4 out of 5 finals with an elite elimination record of 9–1 so it was assumed that she would be long for the game this season. However she ended up on the wrong side of the numbers and was sent in against “Ninja” Natalie in a climbing elimination. Initially it seemed like Laurel was victorious over the semiprofessional climber but as it turned out Laurel missed a place where her peg was supposed to go. Instead she just shoved her final peg in the top of the structure instead, gloating about her win only for Ninja to point out the mistake, correctly complete hers and ring the bell knocking out Laurel way earlier than anybody would have guessed leaving in just the fourth episode.
Wes Bergman (War of the Worlds 2)
Wes is an absolute Challenge legend and although he had poor seasons in the past, like being knocked out in the first episode on Battle of the Seasons, entering War of the Worlds 2 Wes was on a roll. He had come in third place the season prior in the hardest final ever (War of the Worlds), fifth in both Exes II & Rivals III and won Rivals II. However, Wes came on to this season smaller than normal, looking more built for a final and not a physical elimination. But a physical elimination is what he got, going in against Bear who he hated in a variation of Balls In. Bear was hungry, and had a lot of animosity with Wes from War of the Worlds. He humiliated Wes in the physical elimination round sending Wes home in the third episode.
Darrell & CaraMaria (Fresh Meat II)
Darrell is one of the best male cmpetitors to ever be on The Challeng. Coming into Fresh Meat II he was coming off a disappointing but still strong finish in The Ruins when he got removed for fighting with Brad. He came back focused on trying to get back ti the top and even got lucky having the first pick of Fresh Meat partners and chose another (future) Challenge icon CaraMaria. CaraMaria had a really strong rookie combine even beating Laurel in some of the tasks and was a big threat. With how clear of a threat they were daily winners Kenny & Laurel (working with arch-nemesis Wes)chose to throw Darrell & CaraMaria into the first elimination against another strong team Jillian & Pete. Jillian & Pete were able to pull an upset sending Darrell & CaraMaria home first.
Love him or (much more likely)hate him, Frank Sweeney was a great Challenge competitor. He won his first season Battle of the Seasons, with Team San Diego, then he finished second with Bananas in Rivals II and came in to Free Agents as one of the presumptive favorites. Frank had the worst luck in the draw going in the first two eliminations but even then he won both against Chet and Dustin and looked set up for another deep run. Thats when Frank got bad news what he thought was a collapsed lung was a contagious viral infection and had to be pulled from the game in episode 3. Frank was on a tear and we got robbed of seeing him compete the rest of the season in an individual game.
Diem Brown (The Ruins)
Diem is one of the most beloved people in Challenge history. She competed with a lot of tenacity and had an incredible amount of heart. Incredibly competing multiple times while she was also fighting cancer. Diem was a small but underrated competitor making it late into the game in each season up to that point. On The Ruins Diem was also one of the few veterans on a really weak Challengers team so it would make sense for her to be somebody that team would want to keep around and rely on instead of putting her in danger. However Diem was voted in to the very first elimination losing to Tonya. In retrospect Diem dodged a bullet leaving so early by not being stuck on one of the worst teams in Challenge history for long. Rest In Peace Diem!